So far this year has largely been a nightmare. The small sliver of a smaller lining, however, is that even amidst the maelstrom of shit, this year has still seen the release of genuinely fantastic music – Groundswells, the latest album from Wren, is set to continue this trend. Groundswells is the second full-length album for the London-based heavyweights, following on from 2017’s truly magnificent Auburn Rule. It is also their first on a new label, Gizeh Records.
The first thing you notice about the record is the sheer scale. With six tracks in just under an hour, the band have taken the framework from Auburn Rule and expanded on it. The dynamics are phenomenal. Wren find a riff and focus on it, adding weight to it with each repetition. Each track has the feel of mountains being built up then smashed back down. The sound loosely fits in the sludge/post-metal bracket but the force of the music they make moves it into a territory all of its own. Ultimately genre tags are pretty pointless when confronted with the hypnotic power of the album.
Wren’s craft is brilliantly demonstrated in the hauntingly beautiful track ‘Subterranean Messiah’. What starts with mellow passages and a quiet nature sample soon builds into a monstrously heavy barrage. It then mellows for a cello-fuelled mid-section before the pummelling central riff crashes back in, demonstrating a wonderful sense of songcraft and subtle but effective minimalism.
A big shout-out needs to go to the production work by Scott Evans of Kowloon Walled City. He has managed to keep the massive sounding post-metal tone of the band whilst adding a real earthy quality and sound to the album.
Groundswells is an amazing album and a wonderful demonstration of what the UK scene is producing that sets Wren aside as a huge creative force.
Groundswells is out June 26th on Gizeh Records. Order here.
Words: Nathan Tyler